Next in our profiles on out TGI athletes, meet Krysteen Mitchem!
Name: Krysteen Mitchem
Pronouns: I prefer the female ones.
How do you identify or describe your gender?
Female (more or less) But I am very up front about being trans (male to female). I spent the first 20 years being in the closet, its all in the open now.
What sports do you currently play or have you played before?
I play softball for Pitch, Please! in Seattle. In the past I played roller derby in Seattle and I coached beginning skaters at PFM roller derby for a couple years. I have also been involved in several martial arts, Tae kwon do, Kajukenbo, Aikido and others.
What’s your typical/favorite position?
Currently I play short stop. When I was a kid playing baseball I played 2nd base but only in the last couple years have the confidence to move to a much busier position.
Are you a professional athlete? If not, what do you do as a “day job”?
No. My day job is a night job at a grocery store.
Are you sponsored? If so, by whom?
No, but Easton makes the best bats just in case they want to give me a discount…
How would you describe your playing style?
I am really really hard on myself and have terribly high expectations. But I am nothing like that with my team. If I miss a grounder I will obsess about stopping the next. If someone else misses then I assume they tried their best. It makes me very competitive but entirely focused inward.
What do you to get ready for competition?
Always music is the trigger to focus. I also always arrive really early. I broke my PCL in one of my knees 5 years ago which messed up some other things. So now I have to go through a routine of exercises to remind that knee how to not bend in ways that I don’t care for.
What’s your most memorable sports moment or top accolade?
There are three that come to mind. Getting voted MVP by my softball team last season. A walk off home run last year. And my first home run at 36 years old. Before quitting baseball in high school I only swung for the fence once, the last time I was at bat. That ball was caught with spitting distance of a 300ft fence. I was so mad at myself for not trying before then and sad because I though I wouldn’t get the chance again. But two years ago playing my first season of slowpitch I put one out (first of many) and I am not going to lie, I cried a little.
What have sports meant to you as a TGI person?
The impacts are pretty wide ranging. Its nice when you are accepted into a group setting to have some sense of normalcy return to your life. Especially because when transitioning, at least for me, I was assuming sports would be something I would no longer be involved in. Although that can be undercut with surprising ease by an offhand negative comment. Still, the positive effects carry over into life in general.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing TGI athletes?
It’s simply the very small sample size of people we are dealing with. There are not many of us out there as a percentage. Many leagues haven’t had to deal with this at all yet. Generally after someone comes through and there is a reason for discussion and rule writing people realize it isn’t a big deal. I was the rule tester for the derby league I joined and as uncomfortable as it was at times being so visible in the process, I feel better knowing the people that joined after me didn’t have to deal with any of it. Since there are so few we need people that are willing to be open so its a non issue when the next one shows up.
What advice do you have for young TGI athletes?
When things are difficult remember there were people that probably had it worse before you and the people after will benefit from the resistance you shoulder now.
Is there anyone you would like to thank/acknowledge?
Emerald City Softball Association and my team, Pitch, Please. All the people that have had the nerve to ask whatever respectful questions they had rather then live with assumptions in their own mind.
Any shameless self-promotion?
I have group on Facebook called Seaspace, its an astronomy nerd group. Even though Seattle is not an astronomically friendly place. And I am pepper_mental on twitter, which I use for gathering news.
This is the second in our series of TGI athlete profiles. Our goal with this series is to promote the diversity and awesomeness of TGI athletes and to help broaden and improve the cultural narrative surrounding us.
If you are a TGI athlete and you would like to be profiled, please send us an e-mail at TGIAthleteNetwork@gmail.com.